FANTASY & Historical BOOKS FOR CHILDREN, Mid Grade.,


Now available -- YA novel, Mid west history at its truest -- A pioneer boy's life n 1855.


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5 star review
The Book Rack
Hank of Twin Rivers, Book One: Journey of Change is a wonderful story that follows Hank, Pa, and Uncle Mac, as they leave all that Hank has known to start a new life after the loss of his sister and mother to cholera. It is a great story for a younger audience as it touches on such themes as dealing with life changes, the loss of loved ones, making new friends, working hard, as well as others. Although written for a younger audience, I believe adults will enjoy reading it as well. I certainly did. It also got my son's seal of approval, which is hard for any book to do over summer vacation. This book is definitely worth the investment as we have read it repeatedly and thoroughly enjoyed it each time.

(5 star review by Mariah)
(HANK OF TWIN RIVERS is the story of a young Iowa boy who, in 1855, crosses the wide Missouri River with his father and uncle and discovers a world of strange places where people are either friendly or they aren't. Iowa it's not, and he soon learns--sometimes the hard way--to stand on his own with rugged men and women who are blazing trails to the West and Southwest in the vast plains beyond the Missouri River.)  

Book one: Journey of Change, Twelve-year-old Hank loses his doting mother from cholera. He conflicts with his father who believes that punishment will make a man out of a  timid boy. His Irish Uncle Mac brings humor into his life and serves as a cushion between the two. His feeling for his pet cow, Clementine, makes life easier. When Hank’s pa decides to leave their Iowa homestead to find free land in the Platte Valley Hank is forced to go with him. He faces a buffalo stampede, an attack by renegade Indians, claim jumpers,  a late Nebraska blizzard and flash floods. He finds travel mates in Rusty, a southern dandy and the “pain in the neck “tease, seven year old Nora. He tangles with the thieving Butler Brothers, gets acquainted with a black tracker along the Platte, and discovers the preacher's daughter, a tomboy who doesn't like boys.

Where did Hank and his family live? 

The book begins in Buck Creek, Iowa where timber was unavailable, and the pioneer's homes were made of sod cut from the soil. When Hank and his family settled in Twin Rivers beside the Platte River where logs were available they built a log cabin. Those early log cabins were sturdy, and inexpensive and could be built in a few days using only a few simple tools. Hank and his family lived in one room log cabin like the photo above. They used their old Morgan wagon, covered with canvas over loops for a modern day RV. Later as the town grew and Pa's business grew he built a grand log house with two rooms and a loft.


Sample Chapter

Chapter Ten; The Butler Brothers 

Two days later Pa stopped on the bluffs overlooking the 
town of Council Bluffs. Hundreds of tents and shacks sprawled 
across the flats below. Wagons of every size teamed by oxen, 
mules, or cows swarmed down the steep bluff road. Herds of 
livestock followed the large wagon trains. Flimsy two-wheeled 
carts stacked high with furniture pulled by their owners moved 
slowly between the larger wagons. Many had already set up 
camp on the eastern bank of the Missouri. 
Pa swore, “By thunder, look at all those wagons. That ferry 
is going to be a busy place tomorrow.” He nodded toward 
Monster Goose who had caught up with them. “Better put your 
goose in the chicken crate or he’ll be squashed under all these 
wagon wheels.” 
“Let him get squashed.” Hank glared at the goose.
“I said put him in with the chickens.” Pa snapped. “You’re 
getting too big for your britches, Boy, but you’re not too big 
for a strapping.” At the threat of Pa’s razor strap Hank hooked 
the squawking goose and shut him in with the chickens. 
Leaning heavily on his shillelagh he herded Clementine and 
Stormy down the steep rutted road behind their wagon. When 
they reached the campgrounds Pa pulled up between two other 
wagons. “We’ll camp here for tonight. Get a fire started while 
your uncle and I set up camp.” Hank felt smothered as more 
wagons camped around them. Smoke from the campfires made 
his eyes smart. A bearded man riding a mule and leading 
another mule loaded with beaver, fox, and raccoon pelts rode in 
beside them. “Trapper,” explained Uncle Mac. “He be bringin’ 
his winter’s catch to exchange for supplies and the gold 
The trapper greeted them. “Howdy, neighbor. Where ya 
headed fer?” 
“Nebraska Territory,” Pa answered. 
The trapper lifted his coonskin hat and scratched his bald 
head. “Not many stoppin’ in Nebraskee. Injun country, ya 
know. Most are headin’ fer Californy or Oregon.” Noticing the 
tattered bonnet on their wagon, he continued, “I hope ya plan ta 
replace that top. Thar’s rain a comin’.” 
Pa nodded. “Do you know of a good place to buy canvas?” 
“Ole Man Shanahan’s warehouse on the wharf,” the trapper 
answered, “The Irish cuss will deal, especially if he takes a 
likin’ ta ya.” 
Pa grinned. “Well, I’ll let my Irish brother-in-law here do 
the dickering.” 
“Best wait until ya cross over ta Omaha for gittin’ other 
supplies,” The trapper advised. “Cheaper prices over there.” He 
reached in his pocket, pulled out a rabbit’s foot, and handed it 
to Hank. “Keep this, Bucko, fer luck on the trail.” 
Before Hank could thank the trapper, a scar-faced man on a 
swayback horse galloped by. A buckboard wagon followed 
driven by a bearded man with an eye patch. The wagon would 
have hit Hank if Uncle Mac hadn’t pulled him back. “Watch 
where ye be goin’ ye bloomin’ scalawags,” Uncle Mac 
The one-eyed man pulled his team to a stop and looked 
back. He aimed a pistol at Uncle Mac then he slowly raised it 
shooting into the air. “Don’t open yer trap to me again, mister, 
or you’ll get it between yer eyes.” With a wicked laugh he 
whipped his team and disappeared into the crowd. 
The trapper shook his head. “Them’s Hector and Homer, 
the Butler Brothers. Wanted for thievery and murder in Kansas, 
I hear. Nasty varmints. They’d shoot ya at the drop of a hat. 
Best stay clear of ’em.” 
“We will. Much obliged for your information.” Pa shook 
the trapper’s hand. 
“Luck to ya, friend.” The trapper rode on. 
Pa looked at the clouds building up in the western sky. 
“Let’s find that Irishman’s place and buy the canvas. Maybe 
we can get it in place before the storm hits.” 
“Can I go, Pa?” 
“We can’t leave you here alone with ruffians like those 
Butler Brothers running loose. Stay close.” Hank followed Pa 
and Uncle Mac to the river’s edge. Barges loaded with boxes 
and barrels lined the docks. Sweating, bareback men loaded 
supplies on huge freight wagons. Bearded men with pistols and 
knives tucked in their belts milled around the rows of shacks 
along the wharf. 
A high-pitched whistle announced the arrival of a 
steamboat chugging up the river from the south. Uncle Mac 
squinted toward the sound. “‘Tis the St. Louis Queen comin’ 
up from Missouri bringin’ more emigrants going west. This be 
the last jumpin’ off place for those comin’ from the South.” 
Hank had never seen a steamboat. “I wish we could ride on 
“Only wealthy folks ride steamboats, Boy,” snorted Pa. 
“Stop gawking and stay with us.” But Hank couldn’t help but 
gawk as they walked on the wharf. Tinny piano music and 
boisterous laugher came from inside several buildings. He 
noticed women wearing short frilly dresses standing at the 
doors smiling with bright red lips at the men walking by. 
They stopped beside a stack of canvas. A short, heavy man 
spread his hands out over the pile. “If ye be lookin’ for canvas, 
‘tis the place.” Hank listened while Uncle Mac dickered with 
the canvas merchant. Their Irish brogue was so thick that he 
could barely understand them. 
A commotion from a nearby saloon caught his attention. He 
walked to the open door and looked in. The two men who had 
almost run him down earlier were arguing with a young Union 
soldier. The scar-faced man shouted, “What’d ya say, 
“I said,” replied the soldier shaking his fist at the Butler 
brothers, “That the Northern states will never allow slavery in.” 
Scarface turned to his brother. “Did ya hear that, Hector?” 
Hector sneered his answer, “The only good Yank is a dead 
Yank!” At this the two men shoved the soldier out of the door. 
He stumbled and fell against Hank’s legs. Hank fell on top of 
the soldier. In an instant the scar-faced man pulled a pistol 
from his belt and aimed it at the soldier. 
Hank froze! The gun barrel pointed directly at him. 


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More of HANK OF TWIN RIVERS coming soon.

Book two: VIEW FROM THE EAGLES NEST: Hank views the growth of Pa's trading Post from a tall tree along the Platte River. Strange things happen in the river valley when he is caught in a blizzard. He interacts with escaped slaves, Makes friends with a Pawnee boy, mixes with a hard-drinking city boy, and falls for Becca, the preacher’s daughter.

Excerpt: Another drawn-out moan filled the air, floating from the willows. The eerie sound sent a chill through Hank’s body. The moan came again. It sounded almost like a human cry. Whatever it was he didn’t want to tangle with it. He saw movement near the willows. “There it is,” he whispered.
A hunched back creature hobbled toward them, waving its arms and dragging one foot. Fur covered its body and wild white hair stood out from its head. It made a high pleading moan and reached its furry arms toward them. Becca grabbed Hank’s arm. “What if it climbs the tree?” she whispered.

Book Three: RIDING WITH WRANGLERS: While Hank goes with Hoss Smith and his Wranglers to find his horse, Becca's father takes her away from Twin Rivers back to Missouri. When he comes home to find her gone, Hank joins up with  Wranglers who follow the Chisholm Trail through Kansas and Oklahoma into Texas. His search for Becca takes him through the Ozarks where his wounds from a bear attack is healed by an Ozark witch, he witnesses a battle of the Civil War, and meets up with his old friend who he finds wounded on the battlefield.

Excerpt: As Hank reached the opening of the cave he heard a growl. He looked behind him. A humongous bear moved toward him. Hank turned to run inside the cave but a pair of cubs blocked his way. The bear lunged across the pond and went for him. Hank felt terrible pain as its paws wrack him across his thigh knocking him down. He screamed. The bear was on top of him before he could get up raking its claws over his chest, arms, and throat. He screamed again and rolled over covering his face. The bear dug its claws into his back.
He heard a gun shot. The bear raised its head. Another shot. The bear roared in pain and limped toward her cubs herding them into the cave.
“Wasape got you good, son. Don’t you know not to tangle with a mama bear?” An exceptionally tall man stood over him looking down with narrow eyes. His face was dark and winkled. He had two parallel lines tattooed across his cheek and nose. “An Osage Indian,” Hank thought. Amos had told him about them.


In My Opinion:  History should be fun for students -- Reading should be fun -- So why not combine the two -- Teach history with great stories!    M. C. Arvanitis. 

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